Summer and IBD: Will The Heat Worsen My Symptoms?

Summer and IBD: Will The Heat Worsen My Symptoms?

For most people, the arrival of summer is a joyous occasion. If you live with IBD, the summer months will likely present additional challenges. 

While you cannot do much about the heat, there are ways to minimize its effects and avoid flare-ups.

Watch the Video: Summer and IBD: Will The Heat Worsen My Symptoms?

Can High Temperatures Case IBD Flare-Ups?

Since the 1970’s, researchers have been studying the link between seasonal variations and the onset of IBD symptoms.

In one study, researchers analyzed five years of records from one hospital and found that hospital admissions increased by 4.6% for each heatwave day

Although the study did not determine the exact causes for the increase in IBD symptoms, researchers suggest that high temperatures may alter bacterial growth and increase stress on the body, a known trigger for IBD flare-ups.

Summer and IBD: Will The Heat Worsen My Symptoms?

Steps to Help Reduce Heat Exposure and Maintain Wellness as Temperatures Rise

Avoid Being Outdoors During Peak Temperature Hours

Try to stay indoors as much as possible between noon and 4:30 pm, which is on average, the hottest time of the day.

Staying in the shade or indoors with good ventilation or air conditioning can help reduce your risk of overheating, which can exacerbate your symptoms.

Cover Up and Wear Sunscreen

When going outside, wear a strong sunblock and choose cool fabric long-sleeve tops and long pants to help protect your skin.

Many IBD medications increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, which can make you burn easily. Additionally, some immunosuppressants and biologic therapies can cause a slight increase in your risk for skin cancer. 

Therefore, staying out of the sun, wearing appropriate clothing, and using sunscreen are vital to maintaining your health.

Keep Track of Your Fluid Intake

During hot weather, we sweat more, which can quickly lead to dehydration. 

To ensure you stay hydrated, use an app or set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink another glass of water.

If you are prone to dehydration, ask your doctor to recommend a rehydrating solution to help mitigate your risk.

Know Your Seasonal Symptoms

Work with your healthcare team to understand the impact of the different seasons on your body. Remember, everyone experiences IBD differently. Some patients may feel better in cold weather, while others will see symptom improvements in warmer weather. 

Knowing what to expect as the temperatures rise can help you prepare and minimize your risk of a flare-up.

Avoid Sudden Changes in Your Diet

During the summer, there is an abundance of fresh fruit and seasonal vegetables. While these may seem like healthy options to add to your diet, sudden changes like introducing high-fiber or raw foods can potentially irritate your bowel and worsen your symptoms.

Speak to your doctor about seasonal diet changes and introduce new foods gradually.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol can increase your risk of dehydration and trigger gastrointestinal symptoms if you have IBD. Therefore, be mindful of your alcohol intake while attending parties or on vacation.

Adhere to Your Medication Schedule

Taking your medication as prescribed is vital to avoid symptom flare-ups. If you are traveling, plan to take extra medication, and don’t miss your doctor or biologic infusion appointment.

While it’s true that summer can prove challenging for some IBD patients, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to minimize its impact on your body.

With proper planning and the help of your doctor, you can relax and enjoy your summer.

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